Does SWAP work? Pete Smith, a tutor from Edinburgh College, reflects on his experiences over the years. And the answer is, a resounding YES!
"Having worked with SWAP students for the best part of 33 years, I have been privileged to be part of a team of lecturers, helping people achieve their dream of going to university. These people have, since the start of the SWAP programme, consisted of those who for any number of reasons, did not make it to university straight from school. In the early days, I remember discussing with individuals their idea that they were heading to university ‘through the back-door’ and that somehow, they were not ‘real’ university students. This attitude has thankfully, almost totally disappeared as SWAP now has its own traditions and history stretching back more than three decades. Even counting an average number across the SWAP Arts, Social Sciences and Primary Education programme in my own college (Jewel and Esk Valley and then Edinburgh College), there have been somewhere around 1000+ people given the opportunity to attend a university course and gain a degree. We have set teachers, lecturers, lawyers, social workers, community education workers, psychologists, politicians, ministers and historians into the community, and without the SWAP initiative, most of those individuals would never have had the chance to fulfil their potential. The value to the economy of these people; their contribution to the lives of others, and the difference made to their own lifestyle and attitude has been immense.  

People deserve a chance. We do not all develop at the same rate, and to expect everyone to head off to university at the age of 18 is unrealistic. Mature students bring life experience, good and bad, to any academic course. They also bring an enthusiasm for studying, for learning and for improving their prospects, and those of their family. Often working in difficult circumstances, raising a family and holding down a variety of jobs, these adults are determined not to waste, what for many, will be their only way to achieve their dream of a university education.  
Looking back across the years since first working with SWAP students, I wonder if the people today differ in any way from those first enrolees? I have to say, that although haircuts and fashion might have changed, the students are still the same – committed people who have taken an opportunity to improve themselves and to change their future. Education doesn’t end when we leave school, even if we have few qualifications.

I feel a great deal of satisfaction and pride having been allowed to work with so many highly talented individuals. SWAP, here’s to another 33 years (at least!)".

SWAP would like to give a huge thanks to Pete for all that he has done over the years to help our SWAP students move forward in their lives. We wish him all the very best in his retirement – that is, if he ever does actually retire ... !
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